Bookmark and Share
Printer Friendly
June 27, 2011

In Embracing Santorum, Republican Jews Seek To Legitimize Another Extremist Candidate

Listed in: Other Domestic Policy, Reproductive Rights, Separation of Church and State, NJDC News, Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC- The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) was astonished to learn that the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) chose to host right wing extremist and former Senator Rick Santorum at their lunch in Iowa today. Santorum has spent his entire political career spouting dangerously extreme language and has worked tirelessly against the separation of church and state, a woman’s right to choose, equal marriage rights for all, and advancements in science. Desperate Republican attempts to whitewash Santorum’s record prompted NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris to issue the following statement:

“There is not enough whitewash in the state of Iowa to cover up Santorum’s dismal legislative record and statements on the issues that matter most to American Jews. Santorum was always a tough sell to the Jewish community in his home state of Pennsylvania, but his recent behavior—including his racially tinged sound bites, his invocations of the Holocaust to protest Planned Parenthood, and his posturing against science—will make it very difficult for the GOP and Republican Jews alike to sell Santorum to the American Jewish community. Yet that apparently hasn’t stopped them from embracing and attempting to legitimize Santorum today,” said Harris.

American Jews expect presidential candidates to behave in a civil manner and advocate for rational solutions to public policy issues. Santorum simply does not fit this bill. The last time Santorum was on a ballot, Pennsylvania’s Jews rejected him by a 56% vote margin in favor of his challenger, then-State Treasurer Bob Casey (D-PA) [CNN 2006 Exit Poll Results].

Besides standing with the anti-choice factions of the Republican Party, Santorum frequently uses inappropriate language to rouse his supporters and make his points. Santorum threw racially charged anti-choice comments at President Obama during a recent interview. [Politico, January 20, 2011] When he was called out for his comments, Santorum stood by them and refused to apologize. [Politico, January 21, 2011] Santorum also invoked the Holocaust to attack Planned Parenthood when he said, “That, with what happened in Nazi Germany which, by the way, took a lot of their eugenics ideas from Margaret Sanger [founder of Planned Parenthood] and from the American eugenics movement and applied them to the Jews and other quote ‘undesirables’ in Nazi Germany.” [Right Wing Watch, February 24, 2011]

He has also claimed that the separation of church and state discourages children from practicing religion. Santorum said, “Would not the school, and therefore the government, tacitly be communicating to religious youngsters that prayer, religion, and faith are not really welcome in America’s public square? That is where we have ended up: Court-sanctioned hostility to religious influence in American society, all in the name of neutrality.” [National Review, June 20, 2005] Santorum has even claimed that Democrats “hate Christendom” and “Western civilization” while advancing the radical conspiracy theory that the political left fabricated history about the Crusades in order to attack America’s “national religion.” [Politico, February 23, 2011]

Santorum adamantly opposes stem cell research and continually tries to impose his own theologically-inspired values on all Americans in an attempt to limit others’ access to potentially life-saving procedures. Santorum has even ignored and denied the advances that have been made in stem cell research, saying “You’re destroying this life for the purpose of research which has questionable value. There’s all sorts of misinformation out there that, you know, this research may not ever end up to be helpful therapeutic….” [Think Progress, July 31, 2005]

Joint efforts between Jewish Republicans and Santorum—such as the frantic effort to legitimize Santorum today—are totally out of step with the values of the vast majority of American Jews. Santorum’s extremist positions have historically been roundly rejected by the Jewish community, and understandably so. This episode once again illustrates why American Jews overwhelmingly have felt and will continue to feel at home within the Democratic Party.